How Should Retailers Navigate the Post-Covid Landscape?

Now that more than half of US adults have received at least one shot of a Covid vaccine, states are widely loosening social restrictions. This means full capacity at restaurants and retailers and likely more confidence from consumers about making trips to physical stores.

While the return of nearly unrestricted in-person shopping heralds brighter days for brands and retailers, it is also a challenge. Consumers have gotten used to digital shopping as e-commerce soared amid the pandemic. How will retailers provide that same frictionless experience to meet elevated customer expectations in-store?

Amy Vale, CMO at cash-back app Dosh, weighs in.

What challenges should retailers and brands be mindful of as shoppers return to stores following Covid?

The challenge for brands will be finding ways to bring the personalization and rewards that shoppers have become accustomed to via the digital shopping experience into the in-store shopping experience. Marrying in-store and digital experiences will be essential to a successful transition. Blending the benefits of online shopping while providing an in-person experience takes a thoughtful approach. By reverting back to old ways, retailers could risk losing customers to competitors paving the way to a new reality of shopping in stores. 

What does connecting online and offline experiences entail? What does every seller need to do, and what’s on the cutting edge?

Connecting online and offline experiences might sound intimidating at first, but it’s important to remember they aren’t completely separate entities. Retailers need to think about how they can deliver the best experience to shoppers on both fronts to stay competitive.

In order to do this, it’s important for brands to connect all cross-channel experiences, whether it be shopping online, through a mobile app or in-person. One way to do that is by offering an experience, benefit, or personalized incentive to show shoppers you value them, and to keep them coming back.

At Dosh, we partner with over 10,000 retailers to connect them with millions of customers through our cash-back platform. Shoppers who’ve linked a card to the Dosh app earn cash back whether they shop online or in-store at participating retailers, and have the immediate gratification of earning cash back through a push notification on their phone. This type of personalized experience is one way retailers can connect online and offline shopping. 

What is the role of deals in the near future of brick-and-mortar commerce? 

Saving is a top priority for the majority of consumers. In recent pulse surveys of Dosh app users, respondents consistently reported the importance of saving — 89% of respondents viewed saving as a top priority in December of 2020 (87% in April 2020, and 90% in July 2020). 

Given today’s financial landscape, shoppers expect deals or rewards to entice them back in-store, and personalized deals are changing the marketing space dramatically. It’s important to think about creating an automatic, multichannel shopping experience. Card-linked offers create a seamless and contactless purchase experience for in-store shoppers, with no coupons exchanged between hands. Later as the customer leaves the store, they are notified of their reward. In turn, they’re focused on what they earned while shopping, rather than what was spent. 

What technologies should retailers be investing in now to tackle the post-Covid landscape?

In today’s environment, building consumer loyalty is more important than ever before to deepen relationships and stay competitive. With online shopping, retailers can more accurately map consumers’ purchasing behavior to marketing efforts and know which marketing tactics are working to drive sales. As in-store shopping resumes more widely, retailers need to invest in tools that allow them to deeply understand consumers’ shopping patterns and what makes a consumer a loyal shopper in a post-COVID world.

Lastly, it is also important to remember that soon, marketers will be operating in a post-cookie environment, so adopting technology that offers first-party anonymized data is paramount for success. 

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Joe Zappa is the Managing Editor of Street Fight. He has spearheaded the newsroom's editorial operations since 2018 and compiled the daily newsletter since 2016. Joe is a journalist who has written widely about technology, business, and politics. You can contact him at jzappa@streetfightmag.com.